One of the most influential S.H.I.E.L.D. creators of them all is still not happy with Marvel's series, and this time he's taking aim at its "teeth-grinding sensitivity."
In a new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap for the midseason finale "The Bridge" over at THR, legendary writer and artist Jim Steranko -- known among Marvel fans for his iconic run of Nick Fury stories -- complained that the show is spending too much time focusing on the emotional highlights of each character and not enough on the action that he feels should drive a S.H.I.E.L.D.-led show.
"Have I just developed a severe allergic reaction to soap or must I accept being flayed to smithereens by every soporific, on-screen character’s romantic history?" Steranko wrote. "Sufferin’ Succotash! I tuned in Agents of SHIELD and got As The World Turns!"
Last time we visited Steranko's comments on the show, back when he reviewed the series premiere in September, he targeted various general inconsistencies in character, plot and tone, including lack of clarity in the fight sequences and a sense of boredom when the show focused on seemingly "ordinary" people. This time, Steranko takes a more specific approach, blasting the show for devoting too much time to "soap" rather than driving the action forward.
"It was clear in 'The Bridge' that the never-ending agonizing -- not only by the good guys, but the bad guys as well -- sucked up valuable narrative time (that’s the stuff that moves a story forward) like a Bissell on crack!" Steranko wrote.
With regard to said "agonizing," Steranko specifically cited Fitz's apparent jealousy as Simmons ogles Peterson, Coulson's conversation with Ward about the cello player he misses, and Peterson worrying over his son. But he also went deeper and offered an interesting theory regarding what's really eating at the series: It's trying to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. show and a Joss Whedon show, and it simply can't be both.
"It’s obvious by episode 10 that the SHIELD audience is looking for explosive, fast-moving, plot-twisting, high-tech adventure. And not getting it," Steranko wrote. "And perhaps it’s equally obvious that the Whedon audience is looking for complex character studies and mega-issues. And not getting it. Both directions are valid, but combining them successfully may be as vexing as reading the definitive study of quantum mechanics in a hammock during a hurricane."
Steranko also offered a ... let's call it more provocative, controversial insight when he speculated that the reason the episode relied so much on emotions was its female-led creative team.
"Could the avalanche of terminal touchy-feely have anything to do with the fact that the ep was exec produced by a woman (Maurissa Tancharoen), scribed by a woman (Shalisha Francis), and directed by a woman (Holly Dale)?" Steranko asked. "Or am I sexist scum for even asking?"
Well ... that was an awkward development, especially after the more measured reaction earlier in the review. But hey, Steranko's never been one to shy from speaking his mind, especially when talking about a part of the Marvel Universe that he was integral in building. What do you think? Is Steranko right on any of these points?